This May, Hawaii’s legislature passed SB2647, which helped stop endangered species like elephants, rhinos, pangolins, sharks, rays, and other animals from finding their way into Hawaiian markets. An investigation of Hawaii’s online ivory trade indicated that 89% of ivory items for sale in Hawaii were of unknown or likely illegal origin. On June 23rd, Governor David Ige signed SB2647 into law, making Hawaii the fifth state to succeed in passing legislation that protects some of the most endangered species like elephants, rhinos, sharks, and rays.
In the past two years, a number of states across the U.S. have pushed for stricter laws to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking. New York, New Jersey, and California have each passed laws prohibiting the purchase and sale of products made with elephant ivory and rhino horn. And in 2015, Vulcan Chairman and CEO Paul Allen backed Initiative 1401, a first-of-its-kind statewide ballot measure that will keep products from 10 highly endangered animals out of his home state of Washington.
The federal government is working to help ensure that the United States is appropriately facing the poaching and wildlife trafficking crisis, and earlier this year President Obama announced a near-total ban in the interstate trade in ivory. But states must also do their part to ensure that their laws sufficiently protect endangered animals. Hawaii is the latest state, after Washington, California, New York, and New Jersey, to take action to address the continued threat of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Now in Oregon, we are supporting our partners as they work to pass a statewide ban on illegal wildlife products, which will go before voters in November 2016. If this ban passes in Oregon we have the chance to ensure the West Coast is not a market for wildlife products.
To continue this important trajectory for wildlife, we must collectively call for action from all of our state leaders and pressure lawmakers in every state to start actively working to protect what is left of Earth’s endangered species. Larger wildlife trafficking markets, such as China, have taken tentative steps toward enacting their own domestic ivory bans, but have openly stated that they will watch and wait for action by the United States. We can no longer stand idle as some of the world’s most majestic wildlife dies at the hands of corruption and greed.
To accomplish these goals, we must take action. Awareness can drive political will. Together, we can speak up for wildlife and encourage the political will necessary to protect endangered species. Go to Save Animals Facing Extinction to learn what’s next in the fight against poaching and wildlife trafficking.